“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
We recently celebrated Christmas. It’s such a wonderful time when we bless those we love with gifts. We search high and low for just the right gift. It’s not about how much money you spend as long as you get something you know your loved one will enjoy. Well, my son Jonah got me a gift for Christmas this year. I gave him some money and asked him to make a list of people he wanted to shop for at the Christmas store this year. I happened to be one of the people he bought for. And when he came home from shopping, he could hardly contain his excitement. He worked so hard finding just the right gift for each person. Unfortunately, he ran out of time and couldn’t buy for everyone. But he bought for me. Day after day he would tell me that I was going to just LOVE the gift he bought me. He couldn’t wait until Christmas because he wanted to see the expression on everyone’s face when he gave the gifts he picked out.
The funny thing about Jonah’s gifts is that he didn’t wrap them. He kept them in the bag he bought them in and just carried them that way to my sister’s house. All of the gifts he purchased were left in that bag under the tree. And on Christmas morning, he took his little bag and walked around handing out his gifts. Mine happened to be a giant blue (because that’s my favorite color) diamond shaped piece of glass. He was so impressed with his purchase for me. He told me he wished it would have been a ring for me. But alas this “beautiful” diamond shaped piece of glass was meant to be a paper weight (I believe).
Jonah’s thoughtfulness makes me so proud to be his Mom. He spent so much time thinking about the gift he would give me (and everyone else). He didn’t just pick something obscure. He thought about what I would like and then bought it. But most of all, he was excited to bless me with this gift. What a guy!!
The thing that made me think today was that Jonah didn’t wrap his gifts. He didn’t break out the paper and ribbons. He didn’t look for just the right bag to make his gift look pretty. He just grabbed the gift. It didn’t need to be altered in any way. It was perfect the way it was. He offered the gift he had without worrying about the wrapping.
I’ve been around people lately that have had their outward appearance altered. My brother in law has Bells Palsy causing his face to sag on one side. Another friend had some reconstructive surgery due to a bout with cancer. Each year I see my family after a year of being away and notice changes. Some have gained weight and some have lost. Every one of us has gotten a little older. We notice the outward appearance, but the inside stays the same. We are the same at our core as we were last year. The heart of who we are has not changed.
God looks at the heart. He is not so concerned about our features and our size. He doesn’t care if our face sags or any other part of us for that matter. He looks at the heart. My brother in law is still the nut he always has been. He makes jokes about his condition and laughs like he always has. My friend who had surgery doesn’t look any different to me. She still has great hairJ (I know she’s smiling right now). My point is that what you look like doesn’t change who you are. Even with our imperfections, God loves us. And quite frankly, I think that anyone who judges based on outward appearance is rather shallow.
I don’t have any idea what my brother-in-law or my friend have been through. But I do know this, their hearts have not changed. They are the same people I have always known. The things I love about them have not changed. In fact, I would venture to say that the trials they have been through have made them more Christ-like (and in my friend’s case…more beautiful). Just like Jonah who was not interested in covering up his gift, God is not concerned about our wrapping. He desires for us to have a heart like His. And in turn, we are to share that heart as a gift to others.